This timeline begins the day after the elections of 2012, and will end (assuming I don't abandon it) the day after the elections of 2016.
Republicans Hold House; Probably Win Presidency, Senate
Washington, D.C.; 7.48 A.M. – The Republicans performed decisively better than expected yesterday night. They have held the House; when all is said and done, they will probably have the same number of seats as they did in 2010, in spite of their decline in the overall popular vote. Republicans have also, at least in the popular vote, successfully propelled Romney to victory; not all votes have been counted, but at this point only godly intervention could hand Obama the popular vote. In the Senate, Republicans picked up seats in North Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Connecticut (though they lost a seat in Indiana).
But major news networks have not yet called the presidential election or control of the Senate for the Republican Party.
Last night, every single state which voted for John McCain was called for Mitt Romney. Additionally, Romney carried the states of Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, and New Hampshire. Romney has also won back the single electoral vote Nebraska cast for the Democrats in 2008. However, this is insufficient; these areas give Romney just 264 electoral votes, short of the necessary 270. As of press time, three states (all of which voted for Obama in 2008) have not been called; Ohio, Nevada, and Virginia. This leaves Obama far behind Romney, at 237 electoral votes. Indeed, Obama would need to carry all three states to win the Presidency; if Romney carries just one, Romney wins.
At press time, Obama led in Ohio and Virginia, but Romney maintained a narrow lead in Nevada. (As we noted above, Romney only needs one more state to win; should this hold, Romney would be elected President of the United States). However, all of these leads remain doubtful. Most of the uncounted votes (and absentee votes and such which are not counted until the days after the election) in Nevada come from Clark County, which voted heavily for Obama. However, Republicans are hopeful that there are not enough uncounted votes in the county to swing the election to Obama, pointing to Republican victories last night in House races (Republican perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian was elected to the House last night, upsetting Democratic favorite Stephen Horsford) and Senate races (Republican Dean Heller’s election to the Senate has already been called, in spite of the outstanding Clark vote).
In Ohio, most of the remaining votes are from the boundary with West Virginia, in the eastern part of the state. This area is conservative but remains very open to voting for Blue Dogs; in fact, last night it replaced its Republican congressman, Bill Johnson, for Democratic candidate Charlie Wilson. Democrats hope that the votes from this area will be insufficient to swing the state to Romney (which seems likely).
In Virginia, most of the remaining votes are from a deeply conservative section of the border with North Carolina. Romney will triumph here overwhelmingly, but because the area’s ex-Congressman Virgil Goode is running on a third-party ticket, Romney’s margin may be smaller than Republicans have enjoyed in years past. It is very possible Goode will be Nader to Romney’s Al Gore.
A very similar situation exists in the Senate. Three races remain uncalled; the Senate race in Hawaii, in Maine, and in Ohio. For Democrats to maintain their control of the Senate, they must triumph in Hawaii and Ohio; left-leaning independent Angus King must triumph in Maine and then be convinced to caucus with the Democrats; at this point Obama and Biden must win the presidential election so Biden can break a 50-50 tie in favor of the Democrats. At press time, Republican candidates Linda Lingle and Charlie Summers lead in Hawaii and Maine, but incumbent Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown maintains the lead over his Republican challenger, Josh Mandel, in Ohio.
In Hawaii, most of the remaining votes are on the Big Island, which is more Democratic than the state as a whole. Local news networks are very confident that these votes will be sufficient to push the Democratic candidate, Mazie Hirono, into the Senate, but national media is holding off on actually calling the race while Governor Lingle maintains a lead.
In Maine, most of the remaining votes are from the southern coast, which tilts Democratic (and, in Maine, most Democratic voters have fled the party to left-leaning independent Angus King). However, the Republican candidate Charlie Summers is from the area and is expected to do better than most Republicans; some also expect the actual Democrat, Cynthia Dill, to do well in this area (and any vote for Dill is a vote which could’ve gone to King). Summers seem likely to emerge the winner, but King can still over-perform and win.
In Ohio, the situation is similar to the presidential election (indeed, the results for the two have been close to identical, even though polling has consistently shown Senator Brown performing better than President Obama), and indeed the outlook is identical. Brown holds the lead right now, and must keep Mandel’s margin in these riverside counties low enough for the lead to be maintained – just like Obama.
Is it too early for Democrats to give up hope? Some would say yes. But logical minds would say no. The chances of Obama carrying all three states are not large. The chances of Democrats maintaining their Senate majority, which requires even more unusual electoral results and also an Obama victory, are even smaller.